Garrick Ohlsson plays Brahms
This is a wonderful collection of some great piano music by Johannes Brahms, as performed by pianist Garrick Ohlsson. His musicianship and pianistic skill are very apparent, and the music selected is both fascinating and exciting.
I always learn some new things from listening to these new recordings: This time it is the fact that Brahms wrote a set of variations on the slow movement theme of the String sextet Op. 18. Brahms composed these D minor Theme and Variations as a birthday present for Clara Schumann in 1860.
Garrick Ohlsson included six sets of Brahms’ variations in these two CD’s, though only two of them, the Variations and Fugue on a theme by Handel, Op 24, and the Paganini Variations, Op 35, are well known and appear regularly in recital programs.
The difficult Paganini variations, an amazing display of pyrotechnic virtuosity, are frequently featured in piano competitions, and they are performed to demonstrate extraordinary technique. Still, many of the early variations are quite different from the intimacy of Brahms’s late piano pieces, and Ohlsson’s excellent technique and warm tone generally suit them beautifully. The Variations and Fugue on a theme of Handel is one of the summits of Brahms’ entire keyboard output, showing the composer at the height of his powers.
Here is Garrick Ohlsson performing Scriabin’s Prelude #2 in A minor opus 11 at the Museum of Arts And Design, NYC: